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“AmEx Seeks to Weed Out Credit-Card Churners Chasing Rewards”

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News in brief:

“AmEx Seeks to Weed Out Credit-Card Churners Chasing Rewards”

Bloomberg ran this headline last week.  The good news is that it focuses on the US market and not the UK market although presumably the sentiment is a global one.

The odd thing, though, is that American Express in the US has ALREADY done this and I’m not sure what else they can do.  In the US, sign-up bonuses on American Express cards are now strictly enforced as one bonus per card per lifetime.  And they stick to it.

Which means that phrases like this:

An increase in incentive bonuses has boosted so-called gaming by credit-card applicants looking for a quick reward, Doug Buckminster, president of global consumer services, said Wednesday at the firm’s investor day in New York. AmEx is using analytics to identify and “suppress” gamers, while creating offers that incentivize long-term loyalty, the company said.

… don’t really make sense.  The only thing Amex can do to encourage “the right sort of customer” is to cut sign-up bonuses, and it can’t do this because it is being trounced by the Chase Sapphire Reserve product in the market for premium customers.

“The right sort of customer”, of course, is someone who doesn’t care or realise that they aren’t getting decent value for the membership fee they are paying.  Increasing the membership fee for Amex Platinum in the US to $550 from $450 – and offsetting this with some Uber credit – is apparently the way to go.

This is the reality for American Express, of course:

American Express was battered last year after parting ways with its biggest co-brand partner, Costco Wholesale Corp., which accounted for 10 percent of AmEx cards in circulation. The lender also broke ties with Fidelity Investments. The firm trades for less than its 2014 closing price and slipped 0.7 percent to $79.04 Wednesday in New York.

There is still no word on whether Marriott will break the long-standing deal between Amex and Starwood following its takeover .  Back when I started in this hobby, the US version of the Starwood Amex was THE best card to hold and there must be a lot of high spending legacy customers at risk.

Marriott MasterCard

Is the Marriott Rewards Mastercard returning soon?

The Marriott Rewards Mastercard, issued by Creation, has been unavailable to new applicants for over a year.

This is believed to be because Marriott does not have an FCA credit broking licence.  You can check this on the FCA website.  Ironically, I have a licence – Marriott didn’t need to withdraw the card, they could have let me be the exclusive promoter in the UK instead.

A reader pointed out that the website saying that you can’t apply has been changed.  The card which you can’t get now has a new design, see above.

As it would be a bit odd to redesign a card which is unavailable – although obviously they are replacing existing cards as they reach expiry – this offers a glimmer of hope that the card may reappear at some point.  Note that there isn’t a ‘contactless’ logo there, which is my main problem with the current Marriott card and the main reason I have it linked to my contactless Curve Card.

It isn’t the most generous card in the world at 1 Marriott Rewards point per £1 but it is free to apply, it gets you Marriott Rewards Silver status and you get an ANNUAL loyalty bonus of 2,000 points just for keeping it.

Want to earn more points from credit cards? – September 2022 update

If you are looking to apply for a new credit card, here are our top recommendations based on the current sign-up bonuses.

In February 2022, Barclaycard launched two exciting new Barclaycard Avios Mastercard cards with a bonus of up to 25,000 Avios. You can apply here.

You qualify for the bonus on these cards even if you have a British Airways American Express card:

Barclaycard Avios Plus card

Barclaycard Avios Plus Mastercard

25,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher for spending £10,000 Read our full review

Barclaycard Avios card

Barclaycard Avios Mastercard

5,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher for spending £20,000 Read our full review

You can see our full directory of all UK cards which earn airline or hotel points here. Here are the best of the other deals currently available.

EDIT: Until 25th October 2022, there is an exceptionally generous sign-up bonus on The Platinum Card. You will receive 60,000 Membership Rewards points – double the usual amount – and £200 to spend at Amex Travel. You need to spend £6,000 within six months to earn the bonus.

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

25,000 Avios and the UK’s most valuable card perk – the 2-4-1 voucher Read our full review

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & two airport lounge passes Read our full review

The Platinum Card from American Express

60,000 points, £200 travel credit and an unbeatable set of travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review

Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard

15,000 points bonus and 1.5 points for every £1 you spend Read our full review

Earning miles and points from small business cards

If you are a sole trader or run a small company, you may also want to check out these offers:

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points sign-up bonus and a long list of travel benefits Read our full review

American Express Business Gold

20,000 points sign-up bonus and free for a year Read our full review

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express

30,000 Avios sign-up bonus – plus annual bonuses of up to 30,000 Avios Read our full review

Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa

50,000 points bonus until 2nd October – the most generous Avios Visa for a limited company Read our full review

For a non-American Express option, we also recommend the Barclaycard Select Cashback card for sole traders and small businesses. It is FREE and you receive 1% cashback on your spending.

Barclaycard Select Cashback credit card

1% cashback and no annual fee Read our full review

Comments (87)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Nick says:

    The loyalty schemes that work for me are ihg and I avios a lot but they don’t do anything to keep me loyal – I just use them when that is the most sensible option. On the other hand i will always look to stay at ihg hotels even where others are cheaper, and if I don’t use ihg I am almost certainly booking via I don’t even bother with other sites because even if I send up spending more with ihg or hotels. Com I know I will get something back via the loyalty schemes and that’s enough for me.

    • Leo says:

      That’s pretty much what I do re IHG and I’ve been “having a fling” with Hilton since I got Diamond in a status match – if Spire offered similar status benefits I’d be totally loyal to IHG. I’ve got a pile of Avios I hardly use – working towards 2nd 241 which I’m not excited about. When I first got into this game I was very excited about it, now I just want a basic strategy which ticks over. Fair play to the Lego, Laithwaites, ink cartridges mob but it’s not for me.

      • the real harry1 says:

        Laithwaites is different to ink & Lego

        • Leo says:

          If you say so. My point is I don’t actively chase avios. I also won’t turn them down either – I read the Sunday Times Travel Magazine anyway so I took that offer. It’s not a criticism.

  • Roger says:

    Don’t stick to just one company. Diversify!
    Try Ebookers!

  • Graham Walsh says:

    IHG Promo through this morning

    5,000-14,000 points = 40% bonus
    15,000+ points = 80% bonus

    Not sure of targeted or not.

  • Stuart says:

    Slightly OT but I remember reading on here previously about your partner referring you for the SPG Amex from the Gold PR Amex. Can anyone remind me how to do it or when the article / comment ran? Thanks

    • the real harry1 says:

      ISTR it was a choice on the email the referred person got from Amex – they could scroll down & choose

  • Yes Sir says:

    There will be no sustainable co brand cards on VI/MC in Europe as the business model is not sustainable due to the Interchange rate reductions… Those companies which are still running them are being subsidised and will not work in the long term…

  • PAL says:

    OT – flew UC for first time after Air Canada Business. Both first time I am normally OW. Initial thoughts are UC not much privacy – i was K. Low level seat backs so you can see everyone (less privacy) not to mention a bunch of feet in G in view. also not great if the person behind has been in his shoes all day. Also no room to put anything around seat. Air canada was v good in comparison. Lots of storage room, bigger IfE screen.

    • Will says:

      Just done the same. I have to agree – I don’t think this configuration works save for having a very “sociable” flight or gaining aisle access. The flight to JNB was in party mood. I liked the dining at your partner’s seat option and thought staff were decent. Otherwise, I felt the screen was too small (these days) and the seat exceedingly claustrophobic.

      The CH food on order was borderline low grade chain hotel level. I liked the massage offer though.

      CW is a better seat if you can select the right one. E.g upper deck on the 747 was very pleasant.

      • Rob says:

        To be fair, the Clubhouse meal I had in Heathrow last year was outstandingly good. Agree with the claustraphobic seat.

        I am doing an overnight UC from New York in a few months which will be first attempt at sleeping in it.

  • HIDeHi says:

    I recently got an email from Creation offering me 3x points for spending for a month as I haven’t used the card in over a year.

  • M Dabbagh says:

    Does it worth to switch to a US Marriott Credit Card? Assuming the annual spend on the card is the same and for the sake of the argument its $1000 a year and my Marriott stays are mostly out of the US/UK, which is the better card to associate with the Marriott Rewards account the UK or the US card?

    I’m a holder of the Creation MR card and my MR account is a UK-based. I’m currently working between the US and the UK and got addresses in both sides of the Atlantic. It would be a no brainer to opt for the US card but the UK one got the 10-night annual credit which I see of a value of at least $100 (min cost for holding a meeting and earning 10night credit).

    • Alan says:

      Do you have a US SSN and credit file that would allow you to apply for it? I don’t know about the Marriott card in particular, but in general if you were able to apply for US cards there are a lot of very nice sign-up deals available!

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

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